Hannah Brenner

Money, Identity, and News in the Digital Age

Modern media is facing two prominent challenges: adjusting their revenue streams and maintaining their identity during the digital age.

The Christian Science Monitor is deciding to create a new identity, focusing on truthful but positive news. They are hoping to start a paid news service focusing on those ideals. The Monitor says their readers have open minds, and they do not intend to try to market to those with their minds already made up. While they are creating a new identity with their positive spin, they are also sticking to their identity by staying away from the clickbait strategy. Editor Marshall Ingwerson spoke about clickbait to NiemanLab and said, “…we felt like we were becoming less ‘us’ the further we went with that.”

While the Christian Science Monitor seems to be trying to make their whole service paid, Quartz is going to try to make money by charging for specialized services. Most of their revenue currently comes from digital ads. Little is known now, but it seems that they think professionals will pay well for the specialized information. Quartz is thriving in the digital age without much adjustment because it was created in the digital age only four years ago.

New York Magazine is also putting out paid, specialized information by marketing directly to New Yorkers. They are charging a subscription fee for this service and starting with a small group of members. As of now, there are no plans for a paywall for their site. About 60% of their revenue is currently coming from digital ads, but they say it is shifting to consumers.

Buzzfeed has built its identity on being adaptable, which explains why all the new things they try still feel like “them.” They are broad enough to grow and change. Being based around what is popular allows them to change with their market, adapting to new digital advances and social media. They incorporate ads into their articles, one way to increase income. They are now marketing to advertisers in a unique and fun way, then marketing those articles toward their readers.

While the New York Times has adapted to digital, perhaps it is the slowest of this group at adapting because it is the most traditional. Now, it seems they are trying to catch up quick by aiming to double their digital revenue. To do this they are cutting areas not named yet and trying to make their newsroom smaller to better accommodate a digital news environment. They are also sticking with their consumer based subscription while maintaining their identity and image.

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